The Gate of Heaven

Genesis 28:17—July 19, 2020-  Zoom 16 Dr. David R. Denny

Introduction:  Today we will shadow Jacob as he sets off on a long journey of thousands of miles.  He is heading back to his roots, back to the Paddanaram, the Euphrates Valley area where Abraham grew up ,and where his relatives still lived.  It is an arduous trip that begins, up the seacoast of Palestine.  But what makes this excursion so unique is that Jacob, early in the journey, will stop at the very gate of heaven (Bethel).

            In our sermon today we will learn a simple but valuable truth—God is always near us.  He is not ‘off somewhere’ unknown to us.  He doesn’t not live far away as is depicted in ancient Egyptian pictures.  He is close by always, ready to listen to our cries, ready to come to our aid when we are weary, ready to guide uswhen we have lost our way.  That is the lesson today.  So let’s hurry and catch up with Jacob who has just set out to find a wife in Abraham’s village faraway.  (a simple outline—get a pencil at write it down as we go—And I will ost tht entire sermon on

1.  The Journey—Gen 28:10 tells us this:  “Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran.”  And just like that, an adventure of thousands of miles began.  Beersheba is south of Jerusalem.  Jacob begins there and follows the coastline north wondering if God is watching him, wondering if God cares.  

            *Your life journey began at a point in time, somewhere in the distant past.  Close your eyes for a minute.  Can you see the events of your past parading by in  your memory?  We’ve all been traveling like Jacob.  As we walk along our unique pathway in life, each step is unknown.  We walk by faith.  No one knows what today will bring.  None of us know how tomorrow will end.  Such was the case with Jacob.  He merely, as the Bible says in our text, “departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran.”  

2.  The Dream—After several days of travelling, Jacob stops at a “certain place” (v. 11) to rest for the night.  It is about 81 miles from Beersheba south of Jerusalem to Beitin, or as the Bible calls it, Bethel.  He had walked until the sun set.    That little detail tells us so much about the earnestness of Jacob.  He wasn’t wasting any time on this mission to find a bride.  He walked until the sun set.  

*There aren’t any lights where I live at night so when the sun sets you have to get home quick or the boogie man will get you.  When it’s pitch black, it’s time to get in the house.  And Jacob stopped after sunset, started a fire, propped up a rock pillow, and finally lay down to rest.  *Isn’t it a wonderful feeling after a long day around the house to just lay down and let the night sweep over you?  So it was for Jacob.  As he slept, he had a dream.  Dreams are windows to our soul.  They sometimes tell us about our lives, about our worries, about our aspirations.  When was the last time you had a dramatic dream?  –Jacob lay down upon his rock pillow, sighed deeply, and dreamed.  He saw a ladder reaching to Heaven and the angels of God were traveling up and down.  And he heard a voice from God speaking to him (Gen 28:13-15). 

3.  The Promise—As the dream unfolded, and the angels came and went, God makes several promises to Jacob–“I am with you and will keep you wherever you go… And I promise to get you back home safely with your bride” (Gen. 28:15).  

            God didn’t have to do that.  He didn’t have to make promises.  But it is the nature of God to help us on our journeys, and so He is generous with his promises.  And you can rest assured that these promises made to Jacob are valid for you as well:

            #1–I am with you.  #2. I will keep you wherever you go.  #3 I will get you safely home.  If you have some time after you get off Zoom, write these promises down and carry them with you today wherever you go:  REPEAT PROMISES—

4.  The Amazement—Now this brings us to the reaction of Jacob to this entire scene of the ladder and the angels and the voice of God and those marvelous promises.  Jacob sits up in the dark and his heart rings with amazement. 

  “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”(Gen. 28:16).  

Are you amazed by God anymore?  Are you amazed how God walks with you each day? Or have you become so used to your church traditions that you don’t really sense God’s presence anymore?  I want you to feel like Jacob did.  I want you to see the ladder touching your life.  I want you to want to jump and shout at what God is doing in your life today. 

            That last phrase is so powerful—“And I did not know it.”  Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”  When Jacob stopped that night after the sun set, and found a rock for his pillow, and laid down to rest for the night, he didn’t know that God was there.  He didn’t know it.  But God was there all along.  

            And that brings me back to our main lesson for this sermon—God is always near us.  And so He is, whether we acknowledge Him or not—He is near us.  Whether we pray or not—He is near us.  Whether we call upon Him  or not—He is near us.  

            Jacob sat up like a bolt in the middle of the night and said, with amazement, “I didn’t even know God was here!”  (Take some time to find God today.  Speak to Him.  He is close by.  Just call upon Him and listen for His voice).

5.  The Dedication—And so our story closes with Jacob drifting off back to sleep amazed at his new discovery.  And as the ladder faded away into the bosom of the night, Jacob dedicated himself anew to his service to God.  He built an altar, poured oil upon it, and promised to serve and honor God for the rest of his life.


Will you do the same?  Let today be your “ladder” day. Be amazed at God’s presence in your life. Dedicate yourself anew to the Savior today. 

Wedding Pictures

Wedding Pictures—Ps 45—July 5, 2020. Zoom #14 Dr. David R. Denny. Accomac VA 

"Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad...(Ps. 45:8).

Introduction:  Today we will peruse with joy and contemplation the wedding pictures of the Messiah.  We will all gather as special guests of the King to view the intimate portraits of him and his bride at their ivory palace.  Everybody who is somebody is there.  Guests from around the globe are in attendance.  We will join them and stare with wonder at this eternal union of the Bride and groom.

            Perhaps you remember the details of your wedding, the emotions of that tender moment, the impact it had on your life and still has to this very day.  Weddings are momentous occasions in our lives, and so it is with pleasure and joy that we join in this sacred event of Psalm 45.

Our outline is simple today:  

First we observe the wedding pictures of the Groom in all His majesty.  
Next we will reflect on the beauty of the Bride.  
Then finally we will slip into the wedding book ourselves and be more than observers.  (This is a mystery, as Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 5:32).  For make no mistake, Christ is the King and groom and we as believers are the bride in this memorable Psalm.

1.  The Majesty of the Groom.

            The first half of this Psalm features the Groom.  As we turn the pages of the wedding album, it is the Groom who stands out, featured prominently in all his splendor.  

            a.  First (vs 3-5), we see him as a mighty warrior capable of leading his armies into battle.  He carries a sword on his thigh (v3). He rides forth victoriously in his battle chariot. He fights for truth and justice and is the King of righteousness.  His arrows are sharp, and his skill as an archer is undisputable.  His arrows strike the hearts of his enemies as he flies courageously into the thick of battle.  

            b.  But this impressive warrior has another side.  The pictures shift as we come into verses 6-9.  Now we see him standing in the palace awaiting his bride.  He waits with a scepter that brands Him as the King.  His reputation is firmly established in all the region where He lives.  He is known as a one who hates evil and wickedness.  He has been anointed by God to rule with strength and joy.  He is a happy king and this is his blissful wedding day.

            Flip the pictures of the wedding album.  Study carefully this impressive King now surrounded by palatial glory. wearing garments that smell heavily of exotic perfumes.  His embroidered wedding robes are drenched in the fragrances of the orient: myrrh and aloe and cassia with the scent of cinnamon.  Behind him the palace orchestra plays melodies of joy that make everyone smile.  All about him are the noble ladies of the palace clad in golden garments from Ophir (where Solomon used to get his gold on ships from Tarshish every 3 years—1 Kings 10).  

            Now we must pause here for a brief intermission and slip into the pages of the NT for Breaking News.  The writer of Hebrews begins his book by reading from Psalm 45, our text this morning

            But of the Son, God says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His Kingdom.  You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions…

            What does this mean as he quotes our Psalm?  He makes it clear to all who have spiritual insight that the King in Psalm 35 is none other than Christ our Savior, the Son of God.  Our writer in Hebrews launches his book by glancing through the wedding pictures of Psalm 45 and finding Jesus.  It is Jesus, the Messiah, he says who stands in that palace on His wedding day.  And it is we who are the Bride.

            And so the Breaking News is breathtaking:  You and I are in this wedding album of Ps 45.  Christ is the Groom in the palace and we are the Bride, believers in the Christ.  This is our wedding day.  Now that is Breaking News!

2.  The Beauty of the Bride—13-15—Here the wedding album displays the bride sumptuously clothed in a flowing wedding dress embroidered with golden threads from Ophir, fluttering along the polished palace floors as she strolls through the entrance toward the King (making her grand entrance as brides do).  Her ladies in waiting traipse behind her monitoring every detail of this marital waltz as she comes ever closer to the Groom.  Every face is lit with joy, and every heart rejoices over this union.  —Ahh. It is so much to take in!  Step back for a moment now and reflect on its meaning—

3.  The Mystery of this Psalm—

            Paul calls this wedding a great mystery, illuminated by the Spirit of God for those who know Him personally.  He tells the Ephesian believers this in Eph 5:27 and 32-32:

            That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkly or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless…

            For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  The mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 

            And John the Apostle steps in to add his insights.  In the closing words of his great book Revelation, he sees a marvelous vision:  

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband (REV. 21:1-2). 

Conclusion:  As we close today’s sermon, we will take with us the pictures of the great wedding in Ps 45. Only now we see that we are the ones in the photo album. Psalm 45 is all about you and me, and the blending our of hearts in a royal wedding forever.